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Making the case for investment in the walking environment

Key Message

Investments in the walking environment are good value for money compared with other transport investments, due to its many benefits (physical and mental health, lower societal and economic costs, social, environmental, and economic) associated with walking friendly environments.


Sinnett, al. (2011). Making the case for investment in the walking environment: A review of the evidence. Technical Report. Living Streets, London.


This report sets out the arguments and evidence for investing in the walking environment. Investments in the walking environment can take a number of forms, such as: Street management; Safe routes to school; Shared use paths; and more. The report summarises cost-benefit analyses of different types of investment in the walking environment. It also presents several evaluated case studies of completed walking environment schemes from the UK and internationally.


The report notes that investments can lead directly to higher walking levels and pedestrian numbers, and can also create better places for the users of the urban environment. Both increases in walking and area improvements have a wide range of benefits for ‘people’ and ‘place’ - health, social, environmental, and economic.

The report outlines the cost-effectiveness of investments in the walking environment:

  • Good value for money – even accounting for the fact that most evaluations only consider a small number of potential benefits. For example, very few studies have accounted for the impacts of increased walking on road casualties, congestion, fuel costs and other motorised travel costs, noise and air pollution, carbon dioxide and reduced public costs of providing for motorised transport.
  • Improved health from increased physical activity, despite the fact that only part of the total health benefit has been assessed. UK and international studies have reported significant potential health benefits from relatively minor investments.
  • User experience (often referred to as journey ambience) is the second largest benefit.
  • All the evidence reviewed of evaluations of walking environments showed positive cost-benefit ratios, of up to 37.6
  • In comparison with other transport projects, investments in walking are value for money. The highest value for money transport projects are smarter choices, cycle and pedestrian schemes, local safety schemes and some bus schemes. This suggests that investment in the walking environment is likely to be at least, if not better, value for money than other transport projects.


Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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